Family Photographs & Memory

My father was a keen, and experienced, amateur photographer, but sadly I do not have access to the numerous photographs he took. Photographs of me as a child, together with the beautiful images he took during his tour of the Far East; he was posted there with the RAF before I was born. Whilst researching Dragana Jurišić and her work for my Degree Project, her narrative on her home page really stuck a cord with me: 

“The story of me as a photographer begins on the day when our family apartment got burned down together with thousands of prints and negatives my father, an ardent amateur photographer, had accumulated. On that day I became one of those ‘refugees’ with no photographs, with no past. Indeed, my memories of the events and people I encountered before that Sunday in September 1991 are either non-existent or very vague. I learned then the power photography has over memory”. (, 2020)

My father’s negatives, and hundreds of slides were not burnt (to my knowledge), but I doubt I will ever see them again.  Dragana talks of being a ‘refugee’ with no photographs, no past and only sketchy memories; how very true this is for me too, without the visual anchors of photographs my childhood memories are elusive, or not remembered at all. I do have a handful of photographs that other family members have let me have, and a few photographs that were probably taken by my paternal grandmother, they are so not like the beautiful images my father took, but I am very grateful to have them. By spending some time with these photographs, that I cannot remember seeing before, I was able to recall the fond memories I had with my grandmother; they were visual prompts for long forgotten memories …

Together with the photographs above I was also gifted my fathers old camera and a one roll of 35mm developed negatives, that were tucked away unseen in an envelope. They were taken over thirty years ago when my father was visiting some friends in Florida; and I’d argue they have very similar feel as Steven Shore’s work in Uncommon Places.  The quality of them is amazing, the negatives are pin sharp and even though they are shot on 35mm, with a high res scan they would probably print up to 15 x 10  without losing any detail. I cannot remember him showing me any of the photographs he took on this trip, as I only really became interested in photography after my fathers death. I’d so love to chat to him now about cameras and image making, but seeing these photographs awakens many memories and I’m sure he would be super chuffed to see his work on my website. 

Image Credits: R K Johnson c1988

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